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Mass Spec Woes

As part of my research I need to get access to an LC-MS. I have carried out most (all?) of the work I could do on the HPLC part and have been waiting to get onto the Mass Spec. Unfortunately this instrument is quite old and does not work well it seems. I have been hearing tales of horror about it from previous researchers using it, and it seems that the cycle repeats. It had been down since the beginning of March and they just got it to work again this week. I was supposed to get trained on it next week, but today I received an email saying that something else came up and it will be out for another ‘couple of weeks’.

I find this to be extremely frustrating, as I cannot progress in my research without this piece of equipment. I will hopefully go talk to my supervisors next Monday or so, and see how to proceed. One of the suggestions might be to go to another University and get access to their Mass Spectrometer. But generally these instruments are quite in demand, so to get access to one might not be that easy. I will see how this goes. Without it, I am not too hopeful about the future of my PhD.

Well, as you can see, I am not in the greatest of moods. I have been waiting to get access to the Mass Spectrometer for a couple of months now, and if only it worked, I would have progressed quite a bit I would hope.

Wish me luck!

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  1. May 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Hello Cecliia,

    Wow, I’m so sorry to hear of the troubles with the Mass Spec. Wearing my old hat as a Project Manager for a brief moment, this is a classic case of Risk and Issue Management. The Risk being that the Mass Spec is not available/functioning some time in the future, which may quickly turn into an Issue when you actually come around to needing it. I’m not sure how close (emotionally attached) you are to your intended scope/project within your PhD, so I won’t pry too much, but whilst in Project Management similar things occurred which had the potential to ‘blow’ my projects out of the water, and the key lesson that I learned was to stay close to your stakeholders (aka your supervisors) and ensure that everything is communicated to them so that they do not receive any surprises – no stakeholder likes a surprise – they generally don’t like to be given the challenge of fixing problems/resolving issues either. What they do like however is the ability to make decisions – I used to find that if the project really couldn’t continue along the chosen path, then perhaps it could continue, but with a slightly changed scope.

    Would it be possible for you to continue with your research following all your dedication to the HPLC work, but using another approach, i.e. not Mass Spec? Stakeholders love creativity! Are you able to come up with a couple of different research questions and let them choose which alternative may be suitable to yours and their needs?

    Good luck for the immediate challenge ahead. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Oh, yeah, and welcome to the world of archaic technology within Science. My PhD is within a Computer Science department that has very temperamental clusters/servers – some experimental simulations just get ‘dropped’ for no apparent reason – unbelievable! Keep positive.

    • May 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      Hey…thanks for your perspective…it is a good way to look at it, and I always appreciate your insights. I will keep you updated with progress through the blog. I had a pretty bad weekend, but today decided that I will look at different options (other Mass specs at this Uni which might not be exactly the same, but still essentially do the same function, or at other Unis or will discuss other options…will look into more options to discuss with them). good luck with your research and your ‘archaic’ science šŸ™‚

  1. June 11, 2011 at 9:24 am

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